UPDATE: The organizers of the project described below have suspended this campaign after learning that GoFundMe is also hosting a fundraiser for the policeman who shot Mike Brown. They are asking supporters of the protests in Ferguson to make donations through a different site, operationhelporhush.org.
The tense situation in Ferguson, Mo., has only intensified over the last few days. Early yesterday afternoon Governor Jay Nixon deployed the National Guard in response to continued protests regarding the police killing of 18-year-old unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Monday night brought the arrest of least 31 people and the continued use of tear gas by policeto break up crowds.
"With the lack of awareness of effective treatment for chemical attack, we thought it would be good to create a specific campaign."
The repeated use of tear gas in Ferguson—already the subject of tweets of solidarity from Palestinian activists—has drawn significant attention from supporters of the protesters across the country. On Monday, August 18, a new crowdfunding effort appeared on GoFundMe.com with the aim of purchasing 500 sets of tear gas treatment packets known as Sudecon wipes and sending them to protesters.
The packets are manufactured by a company called Fox Labs and according to the project’s creator, Damien Karolev, only recently became available on the consumer market. The treatments, which cost $3 each, neutralize and decontaminate the eyes and skin of people exposed to tear gas.
According to the fundraiser’s GoFundMe.com profile:
Sudecon comes on wipes in single-treatment packets; to fully decontaminate one person’s face and hands requires two wipes; the first is wrung into the eyes and placed over them, the second is used to wipe down exposed skin on the face and hands. The chemical completely neutralizes pepper spray and [tear] gas in between five and fifteen minutes.
When reached for comment by YES!, Karolev had this to say about the fundraising efforts:
With the lack of awareness of effective treatment for chemical attack, we thought it would be good to create a specific … campaign and send earmarked funds to be sure that the people there had access to this treatment in particular … There is a general fundraising campaign being operated under the #OperationHelpOrHush banner accepting Paypal donations at sadittycooks [at] gmail.com. I'd like to be very clear that we are not competing with this campaign; we are contributing our earmarked funds to this campaign, and any extra will be donated without earmark.
The project needs to raise a total of $1,600 to meet its goals and had raised $235 at the time of publication.
YES! also reached out to Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), an organization deeply involved with the protests in Ferguson, to ask if having effective tear gas treatment would be helpful to people on the ground.
“I think that's top priority,” said Jeff Ordower, executive director of MORE. “We need tear gas packets now!”
Another top fundraising concern, according to Ordower, should be legal defense funds for protestors. “Arrests will continue,” said Ordower who pointed out that some of those arrested had outstanding warrants at the time of their arrest. The legal fund sets out to support all people that have been arrested at the Ferguson protests, regardless of their charges, and provide them with proper legal representation.
Tensions remain high this afternoon. The Ferguson school district has announced classes will remain suspended for the rest of the week as violence clashes continue between protesters and police.
Click here to donate to the tear gas treatment fundraiser.
Click here to donate to the legal defense fund for Ferguson protesters.